A grass-roots football league participated by farmers and other locals in Rongjiang county, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, has become a phenomenal event bringing over 1.2 billion yuan ($165 million) in revenue to the small county since it was established two months ago.
Against the backdrop of nationwide rural revitalization in the fields of sports and culture, the league has taken the county by storm and gone viral on the internet, with followers at home and abroad.
Modern sports events taking place in the unlikely places such as mountain villages, which are hailed by audiences as "cunchao," or the "Village Super Football League," and "Village Basketball Association," depict the vivid picture of rural revitalization through sports. An analyst attributed the popularity to a combination of the cultural and travel consumption and the public's passion for sports, comparing it to the popularity of barbecue hot spot in Zibo, East China's Shandong Province, a while ago.
According to Yang Yajiang, deputy president of the Football Association of Rongjiang county, who is also a football player as well as event manager, the organization of the teams, schedule of the games, promotion rules, cheering performances and awards for the winners are spontaneously organized, decided and implemented by the local villagers.
The local government just focuses on providing meticulous and thoughtful logistics support services in terms of fields, electricity, communications, security, sanitation and other aspects.
With no professional players, no tickets and no commercials, the village football league in Rongjiang was launched on May 13, and takes place every Saturday. It has been viewed by 20 billion times online as of the end of June.
Apart from the village football league, a grass-roots village basketball tournament in Taipan village in Taijiang county, Guizhou, started last summer has also made itself known outside of the area, which has been referred to as the fastest development of a basketball league by overseas media.
Statistics from Rongjiang county show that the "cunchao" attracted over 420,000 tourists during the one-month period of the football league. In May, the county received a total of 1.07 million tourists, an increase of 39.7 percent, realizing a comprehensive tourism revenue of 1.24 billion yuan, an increase of 52.08 percent year-on-year.
Since the "Village Basketball Association" was launched in Taijiang, its economic growth rate has been ranking among the best in the province. Statistics show that during the finals of the village basketball league in Guizhou in late March this year, the county received a total of 181,900 tourists, and realized a comprehensive tourism income of 55.16 million yuan in total.
Consumers' enthusiasm for this kind of sports as a way to enjoy life has been unprecedented after the end of the COVID-19 epidemic, which is attributed to the popularity of the grass-roots sport events, Zhang Jiayuan, an analyst and general manager from Kunes Investment Consulting Ltd, told the Global Times on Monday.
According to Zhang, such competitive events with the easy participation of the public have received the support from the cultural and tourism department in Guizhou. The Chinese people's love and passion for football have also contributed to the popularity of the sport at the local level, Zhang said.